The Healing Circle: Authors Writing of Recovery

Foster, P. & Swander, M., eds.

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Anthology (Essays)

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Dec-29-1999


This collection about the experience of suffering and recovery from physical and emotional illness is unique in that each essay is composed by an established writer who uses his or her literary skills in the rendering of the narrative. The nature of the illnesses lived varies from chronic depression to a broken leg, from progressive and potentially fatal disease to the intermittent disability of connective tissue disorder.

Some of the stories are poetic in their use of metaphor and symbol, others are circumspect about the reality of the effect of illness, as well as healing, on the creative process. Together, they make an interesting cross-section of narrative responses to disruption of life plans.


The fact that these essays were submitted by accomplished writers gives an unusual readability to the collection. In certain cases, the subject matter is less engaging than the style and language of the piece. Seldom, in the illness narrative realm, do we see such consistently good writing across authors.

Certain pieces are particularly insightful lessons for providers of health care, such as Solly's "The World Inside." Others provide thoughtful political reflections such as are found in Sullivan's "When Plagues End." Most of the collection are interesting accounts, competently written, and useful for medical humanities studies.


Penguin: Plume

Place Published

New York




Patricia Foster & Mary Swander

Page Count